History and music collided at Lizzo’s concert when the singer played an incredibly rare, 200-year-old crystal flute made for President James Madison.
It all began when Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden took to Twitter to invite the 34-year-old, who has played the flute since childhood, to try out some of the Library’s extensive collection of flutes.
"Like your song," Hayden tweeted, "they are 'Good as hell.' "
Lizzo responded the following day, writing in all caps, "I'm coming Carla! And I'm playing that crystal flute!"
NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD THIS FAMOUS CRYSTAL FLUTE BEFORE
NOW YOU HAVE
IM THE FIRST & ONLY PERSON TO EVER PLAY THIS PRESIDENTIAL 200-YEAR-OLD CRYSTAL FLUTE— THANK YOU @librarycongress ❤️ pic.twitter.com/VgXjpC49sO
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) September 28, 2022
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Lizzo was given a grand tour of the Library's flute vault Monday, where she was able to practice on several flutes before the concert and blew a few notes in the Great Hall and Main Reading Room, the Library shared.
The crystal flute Lizzo played at her concert in Washington, D.C. is one of about 1,700 flutes in the Library’s massive collection, the largest flute collection in the world, according to Hayden.
While onstage at the Capital One Arena, Lizzo set down her own flute, named Sasha Flute, before Library curator Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford very delicately walked the crystal flute over for Lizzo to play.
“I’m scared,” Lizzo told the crowd. “It’s crystal, it’s like playing out of a wine glass!”
Lizzo played just a few notes and then twerked for the crowd.
"Nobody has ever heard this famous crystal flute before," Lizzo tweeted after the show, again in all caps. "Now you have."
The flute has been played very rarely, likely for a public Madison event, according Ward-Bamford. It was likely played more in Madison’s lifetime.
What is the crystal flute?
Claude Laurent — a French craftsman who patented the leaded glass flute in 1806 — sent a crystal flute to President James Madison for his second inauguration at the height of the glass instrument’s popularity. Madison's name, title and the year of its manufactureare engraved on it.
Laurent’s invention came at a time when most flutes were made of wood or ivory. Glass flutes held a better pitch and tone during temperature changes but eventually became obsolete with the invention of metal flutes in the mid-19th century.
There are only 185 of Laurent’s glass flutes known to survive today and the Library holds 17 of them.
The flute was deemed safe to play without the risk of damage, the Library added. In fact, many flutes in the collection were donated to be played.
"This sort of thing is not all that unusual," the Library tweeted.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lizzo plays James Madison's crystal flute, visits Library of Congress